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Eze 29:1-21. THE JUDGMENT ON EGYPT BY NEBUCHADNEZZAR; THOUGH ABOUT TO BE RESTORED AFTER FORTY YEARS, IT WAS STILL TO BE IN A STATE OF DEGRADATION.
This is the last of the world kingdoms against which Ezekiel's prophecies are directed, and occupies the largest space in them, namely, the next four chapters. Though farther off than Tyre, it exercised a more powerful influence on Israel.
2. Pharaoh--a common name of all the kings of Egypt, meaning "the sun"; or, as others say, a "crocodile," which was worshipped in parts of Egypt (compare Eze 29:3). Hophra or Apries was on the throne at this time. His reign began prosperously. He took Gaza (Jer 47:1) and Zidon and made himself master of Phœnicia and Palestine, recovering much that was lost to Egypt by the victory of Nebuchadnezzar at Carchemish (2Ki 24:7; Jer 46:2), in the fourth year of Jehoiakim [WILKINSON, Ancient Egypt, 1.169]. So proudly secure because of his successes for twenty-five years did he feel, that he said not even a god could deprive him of his kingdom [HERODOTUS, 2.169]. Hence the appropriateness of the description of him in Eze 29:3. No mere human sagacity could have enabled Ezekiel to foresee Egypt's downfall in the height of its prosperity. There are four divisions of these prophecies; the first in the tenth year of Ezekiel's captivity; the last in the twelfth. Between the first and second comes one of much later date, not having been given till the twenty-seventh year (Eze 29:17; 30:19), but placed there as appropriate to the subject matter. Pharaoh-hophra, or Apries, was dethroned and strangled, and Amasis substituted as king, by Nebuchadnezzar (compare Jer 44:30). The Egyptian priests, from national vanity, made no mention to HERODOTUS of the Egyptian loss of territory in Syria through Nebuchadnezzar, of which JOSEPHUS tells us, but attributed the change in the succession from Apries to Amasis solely to the Egyptian soldiery. The civil war between the two rivals no doubt lasted several years, affording an opportunity to Nebuchadnezzar of interfering and of elevating the usurper Amasis, on condition of his becoming tributary to Babylon [WILKINSON]. Compare Jer 43:10-12, and see on Jer 43:13, for another view of the grounds of interference of Nebuchadnezzar.
3. dragon--Hebrew, tanim, any large aquatic animal, here the
crocodile, which on Roman coins is the emblem of Egypt.
4. hooks in thy jaws--
Job 41:1, 2).
Amasis was the "hook." In the Assyrian sculptures prisoners are
represented with a hook in the underlip, and a cord from it held by the
5. wilderness--captivity beyond thy kingdom. The expression is used
perhaps to imply retribution in kind. As Egypt pursued after Israel,
saying, "The wilderness hath shut them in"
so she herself shall be brought into a wilderness state.
6. staff of reed to . . . Israel--alluding to the reeds on the banks of the Nile, which broke if one leaned upon them (see on Eze 29:4; Isa 36:6). All Israel's dependence on Egypt proved hurtful instead of beneficial (Isa 30:1-5).
7. hand--or handle of the reed.
8. a sword--Nebuchadnezzar's army (Eze 29:19). Also Amasis and the Egyptian revolters who after Pharaoh-hophra's discomfiture in Cyrene dethroned and strangled him, having defeated him in a battle fought at Memphis [JUNIUS].
9. I am the Lord--in antithesis to the blasphemous boast repeated here from Eze 29:3, "The river is mine, and I have made it."
10. from the tower of Syene--GROTIUS translates, "from Migdol (a fortress near Pelusium on the north of Suez) to Syene (in the farthest south)"; that is, from one end of Egypt to the other. So "from Migdol to Syene," Eze 30:6, Margin. However, English Version rightly refers Syene to Seveneh, that is, Sebennytus, in the eastern delta of the Nile, the capital of the Lower Egyptian kings. The Sebennyte Pharaohs, with the help of the Canaanites, who, as shepherds or merchants, ranged the desert of Suez, extended their borders beyond the narrow province east of the delta, to which they had been confined by the Pharaohs of Upper Egypt. The defeated party, in derision, named the Sebennyte or Lower Egyptians foreigners and shepherd-kings (a shepherd being an abomination in Egypt, Ge 46:34). They were really a native dynasty. Thus, in English Version, "Ethiopia" in the extreme south is rightly contrasted with Sebennytus or Syene in the north.
11. forty years--answering to the forty years in which the Israelites, their former bondsmen, wandered in "the wilderness" (compare Note, see on Eze 29:5). JEROME remarks the number forty is one often connected with affliction and judgment. The rains of the flood in forty days brought destruction on the world. Moses, Elias, and the Saviour fasted forty days. The interval between Egypt's overthrow by Nebuchadnezzar and the deliverance by Cyrus, was about forty years. The ideal forty years' wilderness state of social and political degradation, rather than a literal non-passing of man or beast for that term, is mainly intended (so Eze 4:6; Isa 19:2, 11).
12. As Israel passed through a term of wilderness discipline (compare Eze 20:35, &c.), which was in its essential features to be repeated again, so it was to be with Egypt [FAIRBAIRN]. Some Egyptians were to be carried to Babylon, also many "scattered" in Arabia and Ethiopia through fear; but mainly the "scattering" was to be the dissipation of their power, even though the people still remained in their own land.
13. (Jer 46:26).
14. Pathros--the Thebaid, or Upper Egypt, which had been especially
harassed by Nebuchadnezzar
(Na 3:8, 10).
The oldest part of Egypt as to civilization and art. The Thebaid was
anciently called "Egypt" [ARISTOTLE]. Therefore it
is called the "land of the Egyptians' birth" (Margin, for
16. Egypt, when restored, shall be so circumscribed in power that it
shall be no longer an object of confidence to Israel, as formerly; for
example, as when, relying on it, Israel broke faith with Nebuchadnezzar
(Eze 17:13, 15, 16).
18. every head . . . bald, . . . shoulder . . . peeled--with carrying
baskets of earth and stones for the siege works.
19. multitude--not as
FAIRBAIRN, "store"; but, he shall take away a
multitude of captives out of Egypt. The success of Nebuchadnezzar is
implied in Tyre's receiving a king from Babylon, probably one of her
captives there, Merbal.
20. because they wrought for me--the Chaldeans, fulfilling My will as to Tyre (compare Jer 25:9).
21. In the evil only, not in the good, was Egypt to be parallel to
Israel. The very downfall of Egypt will be the signal for the rise of
Israel, because of God's covenant with the latter.